Tribute courtesy of Phil Berrier, Roller Derby Forum
Ronnie Robinson was born September 25, 1938 in New York. His father, boxing great Sugar Ray Robinson, did not want Ronnie to become a boxer, so Ronnie set his sights on becoming a Roller Derby skater. Trained by the great Buddy Atkinson, Sr. at the New York training school, Robinson first saw action as a skater with the 1958 NY Chiefs. Nurtured in his rookie season by Gene Gammon and Gerry Murray, Ronnie soon became a top-flight jammer. Though a mainstay of the Chiefs, Ronnie also saw action with the Westerners, Red Devils, Braves, Clippers and Cardenales in the early years of his career. Along the way, Robinson picked up blocking skills equal to his jamming abilities.
In January of 1968 Ronnie was assigned his first coaching duties with the N.E. Braves. Teaming with Bob Woodberry, Robinson led his team to the 1969 league Championship over the perennial league champion Bay Bombers.
With the Derby expansion, Robinson found himself a member of the Chicago Pioneers beginning with the 1971-72 Eastern season. Gil Orozco took the coaching duties with Ronnie taking the position of Skaters' Representative to the league office. It is still somewhat surprising that Robinson was never officially coach of this Pioneers team. He generally took the role of men's captain and left the coaching duties to Orozco, Scopas and later, Buddy Atkinson, Sr.
Following Roller Derby's folding; Ronnie Robinson was signed to the Los Angeles Thunderbirds for the 1974 season but retired several months into the season.
Like many Derby skaters, Robinson did not stay retired for long. He returned to action alongside many of the biggest names in skating with the New York Braves of the Roller Stars league in 1975. Later that same year he became coach of the New York Skychiefs of the World Skating Derby. In 1979 Northern California fans were thrilled when Ronnie Robinson returned to that area to skate with the Southern Jolters. Unfortunately, even though it was a special one-game-only appearance, the game was not videotaped.
Ronnie made another comeback for the 1991 and 1992 seasons as coach of the New York Superchiefs of the IRSD. Women's captain of the team was another all-time great skater, Judy Sowinski.
In 2004, on the anniversary on his birth, Ronnie Robinson was inducted into the National Roller Derby Hall of Fame; a well-deserved honor for one of Roller Derby's greatest skaters.
Gary Powers wrote about the passing of Ronnie Robinson in 2001 . . .
Ronnie Robinson, the incredible star of the banked track, son of "Sugar" Ray, passed away Saturday afternoon, April 14. Anyone who ever saw Ronnie skate whether it was with the NY Chiefs, Northeast Braves, Midwest Pioneers or other teams, will never forget the grace and beauty of his stride, the sheer power of his presence at the back of the pack or his singular leadership abilities.
Coaching the Braves to the World Title in 1969, upsetting the defending champion Bay Bombers before a stunned hometown crowd, is a moment which will never be forgotten by anyone who loves the banked track sport.
. . . Ronnie was one-in-a-million. No one will ever forget him.
Bio Courtesy of Phil Berrier